The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block a lower court ruling that the Biden administration must reinstate a Trump-era policy that requires asylum-seekers to remain outside the United States for their cases to be decided.
Initially enacted in 2019, the “remain in Mexico” policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) was halted shortly after President Biden took office. Texas sued over the program’s suspension claiming it placed a burden on local governments to provide services to immigrants who were allowed to stay. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled earlier this month that the Biden administration did not provide an adequate reason for getting rid of the policy, and that its procedures regarding asylum-seekers who enter the country were unlawful. He issued a nationwide injunction and insisted that DHS must “enforce and implement MPP in good faith.” Judge Kacsmaryk suspended his ruling for a week, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, refused to give the administration a further stay while it pursued an appeal, prompting an emergency application for a stay in the Supreme Court. On Friday, shortly before the ruling was to go into effect, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. issued a short stay to allow the full Supreme Court to consider the matter.
With the three liberal justices in dissent, the court’s conservative majority said the administration likely violated federal law in its efforts to rescind the program informally known as Remain in Mexico. The justices said in their unsigned decision that the Biden administration appeared to act arbitrarily and capriciously by rescinding the policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols. They also cited last year’s decision in the Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of University of California case that blocked the Trump administration’s effort to undo the Obama-era program protecting young immigrants that came to the U.S. as children.
Attorney General Ken Paxton took to Twitter to celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling as a victory for Texas. “Paxton wins again!” tweeted Paxton Tuesday. “The US Supreme Court ruled for TX – again. SCOTUS said Remain in Mexico policy must be implemented now!”
Immigration advocates, including the American Immigration Council, have expressed alarm at the decision and said Remain in Mexico is a dangerous policy for thousands of people seeking humanitarian aid. Justice Samuel Alito ordered a brief delay to allow the full court time to consider the administration’s appeal. The case may return to the Supreme Court after an appeal’s court hears the case.